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“Justice key for reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire” – UN human rights expert

GENEVA / ABIDJAN (7 May 2013) – “After more than ten years of political crisis, justice is key for the reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Independent Expert Doudou Diène said at the end of his latest visit to the country to follow up in the implementation of his previous recommendations* and those of other UN mechanisms, including the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire of 2011.

“It is important that the authorities give clear signal on their willingness to assure equity of the justice machinery,” Mr. Diène said, noting the commitment and the efforts of the Ivorian authorities to push for more celerity in the judicial process. “Those responsible of human rights violations from both sides have to be brought to justice.”

The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d'Ivoire stressed that the National Commission on Dialogue and Reconciliation has an important role to play in the reconciliation process, and called on the Government to provide the necessary resources and time to allow the Commission to fulfil its mandate properly.

During his seven-day mission, Mr. Diène met high-level officials, including Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, and a number of other ministers, judicial officials, security officials, and head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The human rights expert met also with civil society representatives, and the diplomatic community.

The Independent Expert went to Odienné to visit the wife of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Simone Gbagbo, who was arrested in 2011 for crimes against humanity. Ms. Gbagbo was transferred one day later to Abidjan for medical reasons. The rights expert went also to Bouna detention center where he met former pro-Gbagbo officials, including Affi Nguessan, former prime Minister and Secretary General of the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI).

“I commend the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its efforts on establishing the rule of law in Côte d’Ivoire,” the Independent Expert said. “I urge the authorities to continue the political dialogue with the opposition in establishing an inclusive dialogue. The organization of the regional and local elections is a positive step.”

During this visit, Mr. Diène had the opportunity to discuss with key actors in Côte d’Ivoire, including government officials and civil society organizations, on their views and in which extent the stakeholders have been engaged in the process of the strengthening of the Rule of Law and in the fight against impunity in the country.

Regarding the enjoyment of the economic and social rights, Mr. Diène asked the authorities to ensure that the gains of the positive growth of Côte d’Ivoire have concrete impact on the daily life of the population in terms of improvement of social services.

The Independent Expert also acknowledged efforts of the authorities to improve the security situation. “I continue to encourage the State of Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that the securities forces act in a republican framework as per national legislation and international standards,” he said.

The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in June 2013.

The mandate of the Independent Expert was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and relevant actors in the follow-up of the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire and the Human Rights Council, including the ones addressed to the international community. As Independent Expert, Mr. Doudou Diène acts independently from any Government or organization. He was previously the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002-08.

(*) Check the Independent Expert’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-72_en.pdf

OHCHR Country page – Cote d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact Johel Dominique (+41 22 928 9398 / jdominique@ohchr.org) or write to EICotedivoire@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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